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Policy and funding

Scotland’s photonics cluster

10 Nov 2015

The photonics industry is a major contributor to the UK’s hi-tech economy. In 2012 (the most recent year for official statistics), the sector as a whole had an annual turnover of £10.5bn, and it employed more people than the country’s pharmaceutical industry. But that kind of status doesn’t develop overnight, and it doesn’t happen by accident.

That’s the message that comes across in this video, which was recorded at the University of Strathclyde’s Technology and Innovation Centre in Glasgow, Scotland. This £89m building was officially opened in July 2015 and now houses more than a dozen different groups, including the Centre for Microsystems and Photonics (part of Strathclyde’s engineering department), the Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics (CAP) and the Institute of Photonics.

The last of these organizations was founded in 1995 to strengthen links between Strathclyde’s physics department and the photonics industry. In the video, you’ll hear Martin Dawson, director of research at the Institute of Photonics and head of the CAP, talking about how those academia–industry partnerships have developed within the cluster of photonics companies located in Scotland’s central belt. You’ll also hear Simon Andrews, executive director of Fraunhofer UK Research, explaining why such partnerships – and the government funding that supports them – are important for building and maintaining hi-tech industries.

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